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The Greatest Trade Ever: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of How John Paulson Defied Wall Street and Made Financial History
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The Greatest Trade Ever: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of How John Paulson Defied Wall Street and Made Financial History

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  3,053 ratings  ·  125 reviews
In 2006, hedge fund manager John Paulson realized something few others suspected--that the housing market and the value of subprime mortgages were grossly inflated and headed for a major fall. Paulson's background was in mergers and acquisitions, however, and he knew little about real estate or how to wager against housing. He had spent a career as an also-ran on Wall Stre ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published December 7th 2010 by Crown Business (first published 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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James
This book was quite a disappointment.

The author spends most of the book talking about whether someones mother grew up in a poor family, middle class, or rich.
When they played tennis, went swimming, picked their nose.
What vintage wine they had for dinner.

Mostly gossip about how people behaved.

At the beginning he gushed so much about how clever etc people were,
it sounded like he was their mother.

As the book progressed more than 90% of the details of personal behavior became unflattering.

A b
...more
Marc Brackett
This was a superbly well written book that had a lot more depth than one would expect from a book on this subject.

Zuckerman did well to extend the story beyond just John Paulson as there were also other characters that played a large role that added to the overall story. This is a classic tale of a few that defied conventional wisdom and went against the flow.

At the time these individuals starting putting the pieces together for this trade of a lifetime, it was common knowledge that nationwide
...more
Kenneth Vp
Bubbles tend to burst. Secondhand people will go down. Think independently.
Mickaugrec
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Charlie
The Greatest Trade Ever was a very interesting account of the lead up the housing collapse. The warnings of the approaching catastrophe were not hidden but surprisingly few people on Wall Street protected themselves.

John Paulson recognized what was coming and found an investment that profited from the default of loans. My rudimentary understanding about the trade is that he bought insurance on blocks of loans that paid out if they defaulted. Who sold the insurance? The same banks that were givi
...more
Srikanth
This book is about the 2008 financial crisis. How few people by using common sense, risk management and good timing became billionaires in few days.




The book tells the story through the lives of 5 characters. Their beginning, their lives currently and how they ended up doing the trades. The characters are




A. John Paulson: The main character in the book. He was a merger & acquisition expert who started his own firm Paulson & Co. He saw how toxic was the housing market and bet against the su
...more
Vaibhav Anand
Of the many books on recession history that I have read, “The Greatest Trade Ever” didn’t really stand out. My favorite book on recession is “A colossal failure of common sense” which chronicles the fall of Lehman Brothers. But, “The Greatest Trade Ever” was still an interesting enough read, managing to keep me hooked till the end.

The book is the story of how John Paulson bet big against the mortgage markets and walked away with billions of dollars. The amazing part about this story is that Paul
...more
Kenneth Hayes Geary
Zuckerman does a good job of taking a modern history lesson and turning into an interesting narrative. While the book could use some trimming due to some scenes that do not really drive the plot anywhere and therefore unnecessary, i suspect they are there to illustrate the level of research the author conducted in order to weave an accurate yet entertaining story. This is another book I would not have read if it had not been assigned to me, yet I found it engaging and entertaining providing pert ...more
Mhd
I'm very glad I took the extra effort required to finish this book! I have a much, much better understanding of the subprime market, 2007/2008 market & mortgage collapse, etc. I'm surprised that I hadn't heard this perspective on all the news docs I followed. Please realize that I have little financial training, but I do know numbers. Two things had troubled me about the collapse:
--I saw it coming, why didn't others?
--Why hadn't anyone done anything about it?

Now, I see that many financial t
...more
Daniel Bratell
This book is about the people that saw the 2007-2008 American house market crash coming, and also how to benefit from it. The main protagonist, John Paulson ended up making billions of dollars, but this book also talks about those that, while being right, either didn't have the money to capitalize, the guts to wait until the crash, or wasn't prepared to go against the common opinion.

It's an interesting topic, but I'm afraid the book isn't that enjoyable to read because of the way it's structured
...more
Justin
So I read both this book, "The Greatest Trade Ever" and Michael Lewis's book "The Big Short" about a month apart. Both are about the same thing - people who made money on the subprime crisis - and both focus on many of the same characters. "The Greatest Trade Ever" focuses mostly on John Paulson and "The Big Short" doesn't focus on anyone in particular, telling stories about a variety of people. Both were good, very educational, and completely different.

"The Greatest Trade Ever" was written more
...more
Geoff
This book was awesome. Did not expect that at all. Had the idea that it would be a long WSJ article in book form, but the author put life into the narrative and the exciting (ha) world of hedge fund management. The book outlines the back-story of John Paulson’s adroit navigation of the housing bubble and the staggering profits he earned for his fund investors. His bearish view on the housing market was diametrically opposed by the street, hence his ability to reap so much rewards for his prescie ...more
John Salvesen
One of the best non-fiction books I have read in some time, in terms of financial books I would say it rivals Liars Poker. Zuckerman took me on a wild ride through the most successful trade of all time. The ‘trade’ was actually a series of trades all based around shorting the housing market before and during the crash of 07-08. From the vantage point of John Paulson, his staff and several other key players across the country he showed how they all pulled it off. The surprising part is that Pauls ...more
Brian
Exceedingly well researched, well written account of the unbelievably few who foresaw the seemingly obvious sub-prime mortgage and real estate crash. The author does a very nice job of giving biographical detail of the various players and telling an engaging story.

John Paulson and a few other clairvoyants bucked the popular belief that real estate never decreases in value, and remembered the classic random walk theory (the events of the past have no relevance of the price of a stock tomorrow) i
...more
Avadhut
http://avadhutrecommends.wordpress.com/

Summary –

The Greatest Trade Ever is a brilliant narrative of John Paulson’s sensational trade where his hedge fund bet against the market and made $20 Billion.

Review –

To be honest, I was bit apprehensive when I started with this book. This was 4th book in quick succession on the same topic for me and I feared it may not capture my interest. True, the story runs parallel to that of The Big Short, but The Greatest Trade Ever distinguishes itself with its dext
...more
Nathan Willard
Zuckerman's narrative wasn't particularly engaging, especially after reading so many books about the meltdown. Part of that was that Paulson and his comrades didn't have the same manic energy that most of the characters Michael Lewis featured in the Big Short did. While Yves Smith criticizes Lewis for making his shorts seem like good guys, at least a few of them were in the game basically because they were offended at the poor functioning of the market. You get the sense that Paulson, et. al. we ...more
Alvin Lim
In 2006, hedge fund manager John Paulson realized something few others suspected--that the housing market and the value of subprime mortgages were grossly inflated and headed for a major fall. Paulson's background was in mergers and acquisitions, however, and he knew little about real estate or how to wager against housing. He had spent a career as an also-ran on Wall Street. But Paulson was convinced this was his chance to make his mark. He just wasn't sure how to do it. Colleagues at investmen ...more
Rick Mccray
This book was great. I am a major fan of financial literature told in a novel format and this book delivered. George Zuckerman was able to write in an engaging manner that kept my interest throughout the story and his creation of John Paulson as an almost "antihero" gave great context in what is still the most financially profitable trade for an individual in Wall Street history. My one critique is actually the one thing I also like about the book the most. It is written like a novel, and becaus ...more
Doug
I saw this book at Borders several months ago but never picked it up, a good author can make a story about derivative trades interesting, but a mediocre one can make it tedious very quickly. A coworker recommended it so I picked it up. I thought that the author did a good job of describing Paulson's trades and strategy without being too technical or oversimplifying things. The reason for the low rating is that the book occupies an awkward middle in describing the mortgage crisis. In terms of a p ...more
Davis
I went into this book not expecting much. In terms of subject matter, it is somewhat of a carbon copy of Michael Lewis' 'The Big Short', which I enjoyed immensely. There is some overlap of people like the doctor turned investor, Michael Burry, and the Deutsche Bank Bond Trader, Greg Lippmann. But after that, both books cover different people who had the foresight, knowledge and courage to short the real estate bubble. Which book is better? I have to say this one. It may have been that my expecta ...more
Matthew
Good, fun read. Zuckerman sketches out the trade without going too far into technical details, which is fine -- he throws enough light on the research process and the push back from investment banks for readers to understand how hard Paulson had to work to get this trade off the ground. It's got some nice biographical sketches of Paulson and various others who also took the same trade, though in less spectacular size. It also shows how important a fund's investor base is -- Paulson managed to ma ...more
Oliver Schnusenberg
This was a fantastic book!! In fact, I thought it was better than the title suggests, since the book managed to simultaneously describe trading on the potential collapse of the housing bubble by various parties, all done in slightly different ways. I also really appreciated the author's ability to explain complex financial products as succinctly and clearly as possible in very limited space.

The only thing I wish would have been different was the relative lack of footnotes. How did the author ob
...more
Craig
I do not have a background in any variety of economics or finance, yet I found the story of John Paulson an utterly riveting tale, even though at its heart, it is not much more than a slight variation of David and Goliath. I think that in small ways, everyone has thought that so-called “experts” are out of touch with a particular reality, and have felt the frustration of trying to convince them that they are wrong. From that point of view, the story of John Paulson is very exciting.

And yet, he (
...more
Megatherium
If not as entertaining as Michael Lewis's The Big Short it was at least as well researched, and certainly offered more insight into John Paulson, doubtless the biggest winner from the housing collapse. Overall, though, not much new ground broken, and perhaps a bit too heavy on the descriptives regarding Gulfstreams, exotic dinner menus and other errata I found on the tedious side.

Curiously, I recall no direct statement by Cashman that he had actually interviewed Paulson in the creation of this b
...more
Derek Prior
I stumbled onto this book as an alternative to Michael Lewis' "The Big Short," which is not available for the kindle. Paulson's trades read like a who's who of the American financial collapse. The book is entertaining (so long as you weren't on the other side of these trades) but can be a bit difficult to follow at times as the author hops from Paulson to other like-minded investors and back again. If you are looking for the story of what went wrong then I would suggest something else (like This ...more
Akshay
Shorted mortgages, then financial institutions who backed CDS of mortgages, and then long financials
Played trade through CDS with 8% annual downside and 10x upside potential
Paulson had his struggles in getting money for his fund and having people believe in him
Once he had the data to back up his thesis, he had unwavering conviction
He constantly checked against the thesis to see where he could be wrong
Brought in the best on wall street who had the counter argument
Remained convinced of t
...more
Howard Olsen
While most books about the financial crisis are filled with epic tales of destruction, this one is about a small number of mavericks who essentially bet against the housing market - and came away with unimaginable riches. The story mainly follows John Paulson and his hedge fund as they recognized the extent to which the financial markets were overleveraged and developed the tools to short the mortgage backed securities that would eventually destroy so much wealth. Unlike many books about high fi ...more
Milandeep
The Greatest Trade Ever is very well written and easy to follow book which describes the trades of John Paulson, Michael Burry and a few others who could see that the housing market was a time bomb, just waiting to explode. Most of the people who benefited from the fall of the housing market and the resultant credit crisis were 'outsiders'. That was the reason they were able to see the situation more objectively than the so-called experts. The book is well researched and and gives out the facts ...more
Sagnik Ghoshal
One of the most well-investigated and fascinating reads ever for me. A must-read if the world of stock markets fascinates you. This is the detailed story of how an industry underdog John Paulson along with his small 12 man hedge-fund firm made the trade of the century in gaining $20bn from the 2007 market downturn. The book is written from countless interviews the writer (Gregory Zuckerman) conducted with close associates of John as well as other industry insiders and whose-whos. Interviews of p ...more
Matt Regan
I have read several Wall Street books: "Liar's Poker", "Barbarians at the Gate", "Rigged", "When Genious Failed" to name a few but The Greatest Trade Ever is my favorite so far. Just really well written and easy to follow and you dont have to know a lot about the world of high finance to understand how this guy John Paulson struck gold. It also paints an objective type view of Paulson and doesn't imply that he was a genious mastermind like other books in the genre and Zuckerman actually portrait ...more
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Gregory Zuckerman is a senior writer at the Wall Street Journal, where he has been a reporter for twelve years. He pens the widely read “Heard on the Street” column and writes about hedge funds, investing, and other Wall Street topics. He is a two-time winner of the Gerald Loeb Award for coverage of the credit crisis, the demise of WorldCom, and the collapse of hedge fund Amaranth Advisors.
More about Gregory Zuckerman...
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“By describing the collapse of the financial system as a natural disaster, rather than as a series of man-made errors, countless pros acted blameless and retained lucrative jobs.” 0 likes
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